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Androo (UK)

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My Salinger Year
My Salinger Year
by Joanna Smith Rakoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Salinger is merely the icing on a very charming cake, 31 July 2014
This review is from: My Salinger Year (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whatever you may think about J D Salinger, you can't deny that he brilliantly managed his own notoriety and mystique. I read all his books in one week at University, and I've spent the last thirty years hoping for some more Salinger to read. Alas, there hasn't been any, though that may change in the next few years. I've also read every article I could find, and every biography, or attempted biography, or even relatively oblique references to him like `My Salinger Year'.
That being said, I'm not going to read any old rubbish just because it mentions J D Salinger. So I'm glad to report that Joanna Rakoff's book is anything but.
In fact, this is a rather beautifully written and structured account of one year in the life of a 24 year old budding literary agent and writer and one slightly eccentric corner of New York's publishing world in the 1990s.
Salinger is in here because `the Agency' (as it's referred to) represents J D Salinger, and our new recruit gets to speak to him on the phone and even, on one occasion, meet him. She also answers the fan mail he never wants to see, and this gets her into trouble.
In truth, Salinger doesn't feature much, except that Rakoff uses him to describe her own world, and draw parallels. Interestingly, it's not until the end of her year that Rakoff actually reads anything by Salinger.
The book charmed me like `Julie & Julia' charmed me. It has that kind of feel. Joanna comes across as intelligent and, well, nice. She tries to make out she's penniless and just scraping by but the many descriptions of her extensive wardrobe and party-going slightly belie this image. Even so, there's much to like in her description of New York and the people she mixes with, especially the characters at the Agency, and her boyfriend `Don' who, though it's never alluded to, is perhaps like a grown up Holden Caulfield, just by chance, and really not right for a young woman just realising where her talents lie.
The writing is subtle and light of touch, almost invisible in style. Yet you're never left wondering where you are or what it should look like in your head. The structure creates just enough tension and expectation to keep you flipping the pages, and the overall effect is, as I said before, charming. But not in a cutesy way. I was pleasantly surprised.
Once you discard the greasy-feeling dust jacket, you're left with a very beautiful little hard cover book - one whole page devoted to the typography choices tells you that some care went into its production.
The end result is a book that isn't actually for desperate fans to hear one more bit of Salinger gossip, it's for anyone who likes something well conceived and well written.

oxford charleston maroon black citroen 2CV car 1.76 railway scale diecast model
oxford charleston maroon black citroen 2CV car 1.76 railway scale diecast model
Offered by Model Hobbies
Price: 6.31

2.0 out of 5 stars This 2CV may be a very small scale, but ..., 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This 2CV may be a very small scale, but there's really no excuse for getting the proportions so wrong at the back. If you can overlook this mistake, the rest of the model is adequate for the scale, though necessarily lacking in detail and with out of scale wheels.

Vitesse Citroen 2cv Belgium (Gris)
Vitesse Citroen 2cv Belgium (Gris)
Price: 12.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good version of Belgium's 2CV, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not a bad 2CV. This one's the Belgian-built version so it has a funny-shaped rear window, hub caps, and extra decoration on the rear wings. They've put a spare wheel in the boot but you can barely see it. The proportions are more or less right, but the wheels are a bit small and it sits too low on its suspension. Looks odd from some angles. Finish is okay, with paint that's not too thick, but there are rough edges.

Simca, Panhard de collection et autres marques disparues
Simca, Panhard de collection et autres marques disparues
by Patrick Lesueur
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at France's 'marques disparues', 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have several of the books in this series and they're all great, packed with information and different to any book written in English. I like the size and the quality of the photographs and text, which is not superficial. Many of the cars have cutaway drawings highlighting the technical aspects, and the contemporary photos and ads throughout are nicely reproduced. One thing to slightly beware of if you buy more than one in the series is that there is some overlap, though they've kept it to a minimum. The other thing is that they seem to be going out of print and some volumes are hard (or expensive) to get. I'm not surprised.
My only criticism with this particular volume is that there's nothing about the Panhard Dynamic - a surprising omission.

Philips YS527/17 Click and Style 2-in-1 Shave and Stubble
Philips YS527/17 Click and Style 2-in-1 Shave and Stubble
Price: 50.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good trimmer but shaver not so good, 20 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This device has two personalities. As a trimmer it sounds purposeful and works well. You click one of the two supplied heads in place and set the length between 1mm and 5mm. Get the angle right and it does a neat and even job. The edges of the trimming head are a bit large and ill defined, so it would be quite hard to do fine trimming and shaping of a moustache for instance (you can remove the guard entirely to improve this however), but for an overall look of stubble, it does a good job.
As a regular shaver it's less successful. Again, you have to click in the right head - this time the one with the familiar Philips rotary cutters that bends in the middle to fit itself to your face. But switch on and the slow and whiny motor sounds positively toy-like. It doesn't feel very powerful, and I felt I was having to go more slowly than I would like. If you're Desperate Dan, I wouldn't fancy its chances of getting through... I couldn't get a truly smooth shave and needed to use my old Braun to finish things off properly.
At least you can rinse the heads under running water, and you can use it to wet shave (with foam etc) too.
A snag if you're running late is you can't use the shaver while it's attached to the mains - it's battery or nothing. A five minute charge gives you one shave, a full charge gives up to an hour. LEDs tell you when it needs charging and when it's fully charged, which is good.
You get a cleaning brush, and a cover for the standard shaving head, but no travel pouch. You don't really need the instructions, but they're in pictures only, like a 'silent movie' version of instructions, and a bit odd.
The shaver is very light, but quite large (it would take up more space in your travel bag than a regular-shaped small shaver). It feels a bit cheap too overall, but has a partially rubberised body to grip onto while using.
The instructions suggest changing the rotary blades every two years, which is more often than I'd expect.
So, hmmm. This would be fine if you always want the stubble look. The trimmer head works pretty well. But as a shaver to give you a clean shave, I'd say it's for emergency use only. The advertising suggests this would be a good 'starter' shaver for 16 to 25 year olds, but this seems to me to be a false economy.

Olympus OM-D EM10 Compact System Camera - Black (16.1MP, Live MOS) 3.0 inch LCD
Olympus OM-D EM10 Compact System Camera - Black (16.1MP, Live MOS) 3.0 inch LCD
Price: 529.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best camera I have ever owned, 19 July 2014
Oh how I agonised over this purchase. How to replace my old Canon SLR with something smaller and, crucially, better? Not easy. I considered everything for months, then bought the Olympus E-M10.

I might have bought the E-M5 or stretched to the E-M1 to get that leap in quality, but I realised I didn't need to. The E-M10 doesn't really lack any professional features (well, one or two perhaps, though it has one or two unique features of its own, like a built-in flash) - it's just smaller.

Okay, so you don't get the weather sealing or the 5-axis image stabilisation the other two OM-Ds have, or the ability to shoot at 1/8000. The lack of weather sealing is fine for a fair-weather photographer like me, and in any case you have to have weather sealed lenses too, and none of the lenses I fancy are weather sealed.

The 3-axis image stabiliser gets good reviews from the pros, and works very well for me, so I can live with that too. And 1/4000 sec shutter speed is fine for my kind of photography. Get over these three hurdles and the E-M10 is the obvious choice since it's such good value.

In the hand it feels great - super dense and built like a little tank. It feels expensive. I like cameras to be as small as possible, and this is so much smaller than my SLR was. The E-M10 feels just right, with a perfect thumb grip on the back and decent finger grip on the front. If you want to use big lenses, you might want to buy the optional grip that I hear is very useful.

Image quality is clearly better than my old SLR. It had a bigger sensor, but was poor at ISO1600, its max ISO. That's how things have moved on. The E-M10 is smooth and detailed at ISO1600, fine at 3200, and just about okay at 6400 in a pinch. I wouldn't bother with the higher settings. I have two of the gorgeous Olympus f1.8 primes (didn't bother with the kit lens since the whole point of a camera like this is to wring the very best IQ from it and that means fast lenses doesn't it?) and the pics I'm getting are the best I've ever had, with very little effort. It feels like the camera is better than I am at the moment.

Everything works brilliantly. It's really fast and responsive. The electronic viewfinder is so crisp and clear and fluid that I never even think about it. I just use it. The tilting, touch sensitive LCD is as slick and classy as anything you'll see and `touch to focus' is something you'll wonder how you managed without. The twin dials suit me just fine and all the buttons and switches are positive in action and reasonably large. I love the old-fashioned power switch that you can flick on and off by feel. It's just a pleasure to use.

Even the wi-fi works brilliantly. I've only tried it once, but it connected easily to my iPhone and stayed connected when I retreated indoors to take pictures of the birds in my garden by remote control. This blows me away. I just need to think of other ways to use it.

There are so many functions that I can't describe them. The main ones are, luckily, easy to access and use, either from a typical menu with the buttons (useful when your eye is glued to the EVF) or by using the touch screen. You can go much, much deeper into things and customise every last button, dial and function. The level of customisability for an `entry level' camera is astonishing. It's also a bit bewildering. But after a few weeks I'm getting the hang of it, though remembering where a particular setting is can be tricky. The manual (on CD only) is not bad, but you really need it with you all the time if you're going to access the more obscure functions on the go. I've had many cameras over the years and the E-M10's menus are the most challenging of all. But you will get the hang of them in the end.

Other downsides are minor. The battery takes a full three hours to charge, and then lasts a fairly average length of time. So it's a shame there's no percentage for the battery level like on a phone. When you're down to two segments, what it really means is that it's about to die. Get a spare battery or two. At least you get a proper charger with two leads - one for the UK and one for everywhere else. It would have been nice to have some more video frame rates. Video looks pretty good, but you're stuck with 30fps or nothing. I also find the eye detector a bit sensitive so when you're using the touch screen playback you have to be really careful or your finger is detected and puts you back into record mode. The diopter control is essential but super fiddly, so pray you will only have to set it once.

But the downsides are minor niggles. This is a great camera. Fast, beautifully built, outstanding image quality, packed with useful and versatile features, small and stylish, the list goes on. It is, without a doubt, the best camera I have ever owned.

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens - Black
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens - Black
Price: 218.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Near perfect lens for a bargain price, 19 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have Olympus's 25mm f1.8 prime too, which is more expensive, but I think this 45mm version is sharper. Its also just as neatly built, compact and performs just as well in terms of fast and accurate focusing.
The 45mm length (90mm in 35mm terms of course) is useful for more than you'd think. Perfect for portraits, it's also great for giving a different perspective on landscapes and cityscapes.
Sharpness is the outstanding feature of this lens though. You notice it from the first shot you take. It makes you feel like a pro. As does the lovely rendering of out of focus backgrounds. Contrast and colour are so good that you'll barely need to adjust your photos in Photoshop or the like.
The only possible downside is that you don't get a lens hood or carrying pouch with the lens but you can pick them up very cheaply if you need them.
The bottom line is that this is a near perfect lens for a bargain price.

Rapesco Power Assisted Heavy Duty Stapler
Rapesco Power Assisted Heavy Duty Stapler
Price: 34.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Serious stapler for serious office work, 4 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The thing you notice in the description of this stapler is the 'power assisted' bit. Don't get too excited - you have to supply the (muscle) power yourself. 'Extra leverage' would be a better description, but we'll not quibble. Standing 15cm tall it looks like quite a big stapler, but it's really a medium-sized (though far from bog standard) stapler with a big, rubber-footed base and an extra long handle to give it extra leverage. Or 'power assistance' in Rapesco speak..

Anyway, it does work. I easily stapled 100 of the yellow pages to try it out, which I'm sure to regret. It did a good job, but that's thin paper. The supplied 10mm staples are reckoned to be good for 40 to 70 pages and I have no reason to doubt it. You can use other sizes for more or fewer pages. The 10mm staples aren't really suitable for stapling just a couple of sheets as they're too long and leave sharp bits sticking out. Use a lesser stapler for trivial attachments.

I haven't had a stapler with a 'paper guide' before so that's novel. You can set it so your staples are consistently placed between 10mm and 50mm from the edge in increments of about 5mm. it's a bit fiddly to set but it works and is a good feature. But the max of 50mm tells you that this is not a stapler with a long reach. You're not going to be stapling the centres of folded books or leaflets. You can use the guide to unjam the stapler too. I've only had one jam so far and it unjammed it pretty well.

The mechanism seems unusually complex and rather ingenious (I like the clever latch that automatically pulls the spring away from the end of the staples when you open it up so you can access them). I hope it goes on working, but it's so far so good. I have to say it feels sturdy and businesslike and has put up with me stapling all kinds of random things around the house. It's hard to stop once you get going. I should probably take it to the office before I staple the remote to the chair or something.

The thing is, this is not a cheap stapler by any means, but a look at the mechanism explains most of that. Is it worth the money? Well, it looks businesslike, sure, but in black plastic is hardly a design icon despite the orange trim, and I wouldn't really agree with the description that it's 'stylish and sleek' either. Having said that it kind of grows on you. It's serious (the five year guarantee tells you that) and 'proper', an office stapler for people who are serious about stationery.

TCP LED GU10 5 Watt LED Spotlight, White
TCP LED GU10 5 Watt LED Spotlight, White
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very bright, but warm. Goes into a standard fitting like any GU10, 4 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Easily as bright as a 50W halogen, this gives a pleasant light (it's supposed to be 'warm white' and I guess it is) and is a straight replacement for standard GU10s but using a tenth of the power.

Of course they do cost a lot more than ordinary GU10s, but as long as they last a few years, you'll get your money back. Actually, for me, it's more about convenience, especially if you have high ceilings and struggle with recalcitrant light fittings, cir-clips and rubber seals that are enough to try anyone's patience. Fit these and forget them – potentially for many years. Definitely worth the money for that.

The only thing I can't tell you is if this bulb will actually last many years. I've had two from another brand fail within a couple of days. Maybe that's significant: if they work for a week, they keep going. This TCP one has worked for a week...

So far so good!

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
by Anjum Anand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Very attractive cookbook with some recipes I hadn't seen, 28 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
So, an attractive hard cover cookery book, with nice pictures and a stylish coffee-table look. We've come to expect this from cook books, so it's only a surprise if you don't get it nowadays. This one follows a pretty well-worn path. Each recipe has an intro by Anjum Anand, when she tells us where she first ate/cooked/discovered the recipe in question, and that's nice, if not really necessary when you're making the food. Unlike an inspirational book by somebody like Yotam Ottolenghi though, you don't feel this book is an instant classic.

Nothing wrong with that though. Sometimes you just want to make some nice food. Like burgers. Ah, yes. Burgers. That gives you the 'intention' of this book. It's food for every day, not fine dining. So it's burgers and 'PLTs' (paneer, lettuce and tomato...), and spicy cottage pie (which is just regular cottage pie with garam masala and cumin in the veggie mince).

These are nice enough recipes, but perhaps you were expecting something more exotic? Then you'll want to have a look at the jhalfrezi with pomegranates, or paneer koftas and shiitake mushroom curry, but that's about as wild as it gets. Many of the recipes are for familiar dishes, sometimes with just a slight twist. As a vegetarian I maybe want to be a bit more adventurous, but not always.

The upside is that you won't have trouble finding ingredients for most of the recipes and they are simple enough to make and not at all daunting. I've only made one or two, but they turned out well.

So, on the whole, despite the coffee table aspirations, the recipes are everyday ones that don't break any new ground but are nonetheless very edible if you're a half decent home cook.

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